The Welsh Premier League is just three weeks away from starting and there’s excitement all around Wales’ top flight as clubs prepare for the 25th season of Wales’ beautiful game.
In those 25 years, there have been some memorable games on the opening day of the season which has been an indicator of where clubs have ended up that season.
Prestatyn Town 3-2 Connah’s Quay Nomads 22/08/2014
At Bastion Gardens, The Seasiders opened the season with a win over eventual Europa League play-off semi-finalsts. Neil Gibson’s men went behind twice before eventually winning all three points as Andy Parkinson scored a stoppage time winner.
It would be the away side to open the soring as Gary O’Toole would have only the keeper to beat after a defensive mix-up saw the ball end up at his feet in which he calmly put the ball into the net and gave the away side the lead.
Jack Lewis though would make sure that Nomads’ lead was short-lived as he’d make the most of Ross Stephens’ superb corner by rising above everyone to header past Nomads keeper Terry McCormick.
Both teams would go into the break level but as the second half began Luke Holden would arguably score one of the goals of the season in one of the opening games of the seasn as his long-distance volley dipped over Kieran Wolland to restore the Nomads lead.
The same fate would happen again for Nomads though as seven minutes later Michael Parker would have an open net in front of him as he would header home after the Nomads defence protested for offside.
Prestatyn would go on to chase the game as Ross Stephens audacious effort would hit the cross-bar as he aimed to replicate the strike of Luke Holden
The cross-bar would be rattled once again as Parkinson would tee up Matthew Pritchard but his shot would sail just over, hitting the crossbar on the way out.
As well as the cross-bar being hit, Parkinson would have been wondering how he didn’t get on the score sheet earlier as his shot was cleared off the line by the Nomads defence.
Bastion Gardens would erupt though in stoppage time as Pritchard’s shot would initally be blocked by the Nomads defence but Parkinson who helped orchestrate the attack would slot home and give the home side the three-points.
Haverfordwest County 1-6 Carmarthen Town 21/08/1999
A crowd of 979 witnessed Carmarthen Town’s remarkable start to their 1999/2000 campaign with a thumping 6-1 win at Bridge Meadow, with 17 year old Matthew Delicate scoring a hatrick on his league debut.
The home side took the lead on four minutes, a free kick from Jamie Rickard found Mark Otten unmarked in the box who scored with his head.
Carmarthen slowly got into the game with new signing Paul Walker and striker Richard Parker going close. The Old Gold were level six minutes from half time, the Haverfordwest defence failed to clear a Paul Walker corner and after a brief goal mouth scramble Richard Parker scored from close range to send the teams in at half time level.
Carmarthen took control of the second half straight from kick off and on 52 minutes a poor back pass from ex-Carmarthen defender Stephen Evans meant Haverfordwest keeper Ben Miles had a lot to do with Matthew Delicate closing down, however it was too much for the young keeper as his clearance rebounded off Delicate’s leg into the empty Bluebirds net to make it 2-1 to Carmarthen. It was soon 3-1 just after the hour when a deep corner from Wayne Jones was met by a raising headed from Wyn Thomas.
Richard Parker added a fourth for Carmarthen after 72 minutes after being set up by Delicate, but it was Delicate who stole the show on his league debut in the final 20 minutes. The teenager made it 5-1 after showing considerable pace to burst through the Haverfordwest backline to finish after being put through by Parker and in the final minute Matthew Delicate completed a debut hatrick after he latched onto another through ball from Richard Parker, and when his first effort was saved by Miles, Delicate was on hand to nod in the rebound.
Carmarthen finished a respectable 4th, 7 points behind champions TNS, while Haverfordwest finished just above the relegation zone in 16th.
Bala Town 4-4 Newtown 17/08/2012
If you were happen to be one of the lucky 322 at this game then you’d be in luck as witnessed an eight-goal thriller which had it all.
Just ten minutes in, it would be a managers nightmare after all the hard work on the training ground with all those defensive drills as Luke Boundford and Craig Whitfield gave the Robins a two-goal lead in their opening game of the season with both a header and a sliding finish.
It would get much worse for the Lakesiders as they approached the half hour mark as Shane Sutton would score with an audacious effort from his own half, catching Bala keeper Ashley Morris of his line, giving Newtown a commanding three-goal lead.
It wouldn’t be all bad for Bala though as before half time they clawed one back after a well worked goal as Irving’s pass would find Lee Hunt and he would set up Connall Murtagh for an easy finish.
Just as the first half was approaching the there would be anger from the Bala players as Ian Sheridan was judged to be offside after a brilliant flick-on from forward Lee Hunt which would have reduced the deficit to one.
Sheridan would grab that second goal for Bala though after his shot would deflect off the leg of Kieren Mills to bring it to 3-2.
As the players prepared to go in at half time, the home side would have one last attack and once again they were incensed as Ashley Morris’ long ball found Hunt who flicked the ball on again for Sheridan but once again was judged to be offside, much to the frustration of Sheridan, who would have been on a hatrick if his goals were given and most importantly would have brought Bala back into the game.
The home side would come out in the second half with all guns blazing and Lee Hunt would go close as his shot would go agonisingly wide past the post.
After having two goals chalked out for offside, this time Hunt would assist Sheridan once again and his right-footed shot would beat Dave Roberts, bringing the game to 3-3 and completing a remarkable turnaround.
With a quarter of the game to go, Bala were chasing that fourth goal as they eyed up the three points but as the game intensified, Lee Hunt would receive a straight red for a late tackle and the Lakesiders would be reduced to ten.
Despite being a man light, with just two minutes to go, Ian Sheridan would make the most of a direct kick from Ashley Morris and his left footed low shot would find its way into the net, with that seemingly being enough for the three points.
Newtown who led the game by three goals would now trail the game, wondering what had happened but fortunately for them Andy Robins would rise above everybody else to header home in stoppage time, evening things up.
Referee Nick Pratt would bring the game to a close in a game which saw a three-goal lead overtured, a hatrick, two goals being given offside, a goal from a players own half, a sending off and a last minute equaliser.
(Featured Image: Matthew Wilkinson)